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Best nonfiction 2005

November 29, 2005



THE WORLD IS FLAT: A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY, by Thomas L. Friedman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

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In this his third book on global trends, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman describes the leveling process taking place across planet Earth, driven by new technology and software. Friedman's analysis is simple, practical, and rich in insight. (4/5/05)

BLINK: THE POWER OF THINKING WITHOUT THINKING, by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown, $23.95)

New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell decodes the science of rapid cognition in this work in which he analyzes snap judgments - the split second decisions we so often make with only the subtlest of clues. (1/4/05)

WHEN COMPUTERS WERE HUMAN, by David Alan Grier (Princeton University Press, $35)

For two centuries before the development of computers, there was a class of workers - mostly women - who served as the human drudges of mathematical calculation. This book tells their stories. (7/5/05)

MISS LEAVITT'S STARS, by George Johnson (Atlas Books/W. W. Norton, $22.95)

This biography of Henrietta Swan Leavitt tells the life story of an exceptional example of a human computer (see review above). Leavitt worked at the Harvard University Observatory in the 1880s, and although largely forgotten today, discovered the calculations required to measure the galaxy and map the universe. (7/5/05)

HIS OLDEST FRIEND: THE STORY OF AN UNLIKELY BOND, by Sonny Kleinfield (Times Books, $24)

This lovely tale of an unlikely friendship between a nonagenarian and the teenager hired to keep her company first appeared in The New York Times. Times reporter Sonny Kleinfield fills the story out beautifully in the book-length version. (9/20/05)

THE LOST GERMAN SLAVE GIRL, by John Bailey (Atlantic Monthly Press, $25)

Historian John Bailey tries to unravel some of the mystery surrounding the case of Sally Miller, believed to have been a German immigrant forced into slavery in the American South in the early 1800s. (1/25/05)

THIRTEEN WAYS OF LOOKING AT THE NOVEL, by Jane Smiley (Knopf, $26.95)

This lengthy love letter to the novel is worth buying just to get to the list of the 101 books that Pulitzer Prize- winning author Jane Smiley read for her research. It's a delicious, eclectic compilation and will give book clubs ideas for months to come. (9/13/05)

THE LADY AND THE PANDA, by Vicki Constantine Croke (Random House, $25.95)

This is the true story of how a 1930s New York socialite trekked Tibet in search of a panda cub. The ending is not a happy one, but the telling of it makes for a grand and surprising adventure. (8/9/05)

THE CHOSEN, by Jerome Karabel (Houghton Mifflin, $28)

Who gets accepted into Ivy League schools? It's not necessarily those students who are the best and the brightest. Karabel, a sociologist (and Harvard grad) details the history of Ivy admissions. (11/1/05)

GIRL SLEUTH: NANCY DREW AND THE WOMEN WHO CREATED HER, by Melanie Rehak (Harcourt, $25)

Here's the real story about the identity of the creator(s) of the world's best-loved girl detective. Nancy 's fans won't want to miss it. (10/4/05)

MARLEY & ME, by John Grogan (William Morrow, $21.95)

The funny, touching tale of life with a difficult dog. (11/1/05)

Biographies

WHEN TRUMPETS CALL: THEODORE ROOSEVELT AFTER THE WHITE HOUSE, by Patricia O'Toole (Simon & Schuster, $30)

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